State investment will change lives

Lower tuition

JOHNSON CITY (May 19, 2023) – During a special called meeting, the East Tennessee State University Board of Trustees voted today to lower tuition for future pharmacists attending the ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy in Johnson City, Tennessee. The reduction was made possible following the TN General Assembly’s decision to provide a $2.5 million annual state appropriation to the college, the first state funding for the college since its founding in 2005.

For in-state students, the tuition cost to pursue pharmacy at ETSU is now $27,000 per year, over 30% less than before. For out-of-state, the tuition cost is $33,000 per year, nearly 15% less. The tuition decrease is effective for fall 2023.

The tuition reduction over the course of the four-year PharmD program is significant: for in-state students, the tuition cost has decreased over $46,600; for out-of-state, over $22,600.

In addition, the state funding will go towards bolstering the college’s scholarships by $720,000, which will help lower tuition even more for prospective students. Learn more about applying.

"State funding is a new and exciting chapter in our college’s history and vital for the legacy we leave behind," said Dr. Debbie Byrd, dean of ETSU Gatton College of Pharmacy. "This annual appropriation provided by the Tennessee General Assembly will sustain our mission to serve the rural and underserved by lowering tuition and attracting more students to ETSU and the profession of pharmacy.

"In addition, this investment in our future will help prevent the 'brain drain' of rural Tennessee residents who leave East Tennessee in search of cheaper tuition in metropolitan areas as well as meet the workforce demand in the region," Byrd continued. "I am thankful to our elected officials, the college, the university, alumni, supporters and the local community who have worked tirelessly to support us through this process."

"The investment made by the Tennessee General Assembly to support the Gatton College of Pharmacy will have a major, positive impact on northeast Tennessee," said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. "Since 2007, ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy has educated pharmacists to meet the needs of our rural and underserved communities. Through this historic appropriation, students in our region will have greater access to affordable pharmacy education that is close to home.

"I would like to thank state officials and particularly Representatives Gary Hicks, Tim Hicks and Rebecca Alexander, as well as Senators Rusty Crowe and Jon Lundberg for serving as champions for the college, our students and the overall health and wellbeing of our region."

Student pharmacists at ETSU are thrilled about the news, as well.

"The reduction of Gatton tuition will allow me to focus on picking a career that will most impact rural communities rather than attempting to find the highest paying job to pay back my loans," said Abby Shields (’26) from Cleveland, Tennessee. "I chose ETSU Gatton College of Pharmacy due to their tremendous effort in giving back to rural communities, and their mission to train pharmacists who are capable of running small businesses that better the economy."   


The nationally recognized ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy was founded in 2005 with a mission to develop progressive, team-oriented pharmacists who improve health care, focusing on rural and underserved communities. Learn more at